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That's the conclusion of new research from NPD Group, which says that 26% of all new handsets – a figure that includes mere feature phones, such as Motorola's RAZR -- shipped with a touchscreen, taking a page from the iPhone. Wi-Fi capability was also common to 20% of new handsets.
"Feature phones are taking on more of the physical characteristics of smartphones, and often offer greater exposure to carrier services," said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD, in a statement.
If more common handset suppliers are copying smartphones, they have good reason. Apple saw huge, iPhone-aided profits in its latest quarter. Palm's (Nasdaq: PALM ) Pre set sales records for Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) in its opening weekend.
Overall, 28% of handsets of purchased in the second quarter here in the U.S. were smartphones. Apple wasn't the only benefactor. Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) also saw gains; its Curve was a top seller, right alongside the 3G iPhone.
Handsets are also holding firm on pricing in a weak retail market. NPD says that the average selling price of all mobile handsets rose 4% in the second quarter. You can bet that Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) and AT&T (NYSE: T ) know this, and are doing their best to boost the brainpower in their store inventories.
Consumers don't just want smartphones. They want smarter phones.
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